House leaders say there will be a vote today on a bill to replace Obamacare.
According to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy “We have enough votes. It will pass.” Confidence is rising after several Republican lawmakers who were staunchly against the bill suddenly threw their support behind it. What changed? Adding 8-billion dollars in new cash to support people with pre-existing conditions, who now could be put into high-risk insurance pools.
Republicans seem to be betting if many people’s premiums go down, they won’t be so upset about losing some basic benefits, and seeing some sicker people priced out altogether.
A vote today also means Congress won’t wait for a Congressional Budget Office report on how much the new plan will cost, or how many people will (or won’t) be covered. This is not normal. Representatives normally demand to look at some estimate of a bill’s impact before they vote.
Another thing to consider: the sheer number of deals being cut to ensure passage of the bill. Congressional leadership and the White House will owe wily Congresspeople big favors, big-time.
Passage of the House bill passes the buck to the Senate. Majority leader Mitch McConnell originally proposed bringing the House bill to the Senate floor for an immediate vote, rather than working on a bill of its own, and adhering to a normal debate process. We are hoping that idea, at least, is a long-abandoned dream.
The New York Times focused on the potentially devastating impact the new healthcare bill could have on special education, because Medicaid pays for a lot of it, and would be deeply cut. During the campaign, President Trump repeatedly pledged he would not touch Medicaid. The new bill cuts it by 25% or $880-billion.
The Times also put together this handy round-up of what Republicans changed in their healthcare bill in order to get more votes and how it all compares to Obamacare.
Finally, it’s not too late (at least at time of publication) to reach out to your Representative. Here’s everybody’s contact info.
If House Republicans Win The Vote, Democrats Might Really Be The Winners
Here’s a scenario being discussed by some Democrats. Let’s say House Republicans narrowly pass their health care bill today. Then it fails in the Senate, keeping Obamacare the law of the land.
In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats would be able to use Republican support of this health care bill that no one wanted, to take back the House. Recall that Democrats lost the House in 2010 due in large part to their support of Obamacare.
Sure, a lot of stars have to line up for this to work and 2018 is a long way away. But top Democrats are quietly talking about it. Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Linda Sanchez told reporters yesterday “there will be a political price to pay at the ballot box in 2018.”
Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking in case the bill passes today. Also, you won’t hear many Democrats gloating about it if they lose the vote. [Politico]
Editor’s note: It’s a big assumption to make that a healthcare bill won’t pass the Senate. The people who seem most confident it won’t, are the same people who a week or two ago were telling me it would never pass the House. And more broadly, Democrats have to stop arguing losses are really wins.
Quote Of The Day, If Not The Year
FBI Director James Comey, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election.”
The comments came just one day after Hillary Clinton claimed Comey was to blame for her loss. (But as we mentioned yesterday it doesn’t change the fact that she lost; it’s still over.) Still, Comey’s explanation is interesting, if not altogether convincing.
Comey also refused to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee much about possible links between the Trump Administration and Russia. He also pressed for the extension of a government surveillance program. A brief summary of his testimony is here. The full transcript is here.
But This One’s Easy…
President Trump has now admitted the Obamacare repeal, North Korea, even the Presidency itself have all proven harder than he expected, but that isn’t stopping him from declaring that achieving peace in the Middle East may be “not as difficult as people have thought.” In a Washington meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Trump didn’t offer much in the way of specifics, but tossed around many of his favorite phrases: at one point saying he believes “something terrific” can come out of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Leading into the meeting, Trump asserted “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”
If Mar-A-Lago Is The “Winter White House”, Where’s The “Summer White House”?
The Florida resort where Trump has been spending many a weekend, typically shuts down for the summer after Mother’s Day. Of course the President can go there anyway if he wants, but some are viewing a scheduled overnight tonight at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey as a trial run for summertime week-ending. Before heading out to NJ, Trump will attend an event in New York City. Here are a few links to protests coming together during the President’s time in NY: